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His Holiness, Pope Francis
OFFICIAL STATEMENT, MaterCare International (Canada), March 7, 2014
In response to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement that Canada will host a high-level Summit on maternal, newborn and child health from May 28-30, 2014, in Toronto, Ontario
MaterCare International (MCI), a Canadian-based international group of obstetricians and gynecologists, prior to the G8/G20 was summoned to consult with the Harper government on matters of maternal health, in particular our Rural Essential Obstetrical care project in Kenya. Applauded for our work during the meeting with a senior policy advisor, we were later denied funding from the Canadian International Development Agency’s Muskoka Fund. Three times denied funding on “technical grounds related to the project application”, and because we do not provide “reproductive health” in the form of contraception. Once again, with the announcement of the upcoming summit, the Harper government is avoiding tackling the real issues surrounding maternal mortality.
Four years have passed since the 2010 Muskoka G8 summit that devoted $7.3 billion to maternal, newborn and child health, yet little has been done to fund positive programs that actively and significantly reduce the numbers of maternal and child deaths while maintaining the cultural values of the communities in which they operate.
Maternal health is simply not being addressed comprehensively. Instead, the Harper government is imposing cultural values on women in developing countries by providing them with hormonal contraception, abortion, and sterilization. Women find themselves in terrifying situations, pregnant and without access to pre and post natal care, without services to deliver in a clean and safe environment, and professionals and midwives, and without the lifesaving staff, equipment, facilities and transportation necessary when obstetrical complications arise. If these most basic needs of obstetrical care were met, 91% of maternal deaths throughout the world could be prevented.
MCI has implemented a 91% Solution* in our projects, and we have seen firsthand the benefits of treating women and children with dignity and with respect. Lives have been and continue to be saved by providing the best obstetric care possible. 91% of all funding should be provided for essential obstetrical projects in the rural areas of less developed countries, which account for 99% of the world’s 350,000 annual maternal deaths.
MCI has developed a model rural essential obstetrical program but has received not one cent from government aid agencies or the wealthiest of grant giving foundations. As international providers of maternal healthcare, we urge the Harper government to reconsider its funding policies and to consult with organizations like ours, with a proven record for handling the maternal health crisis with delicacy and professionalism.
We can no longer deny women, especially during the stage of motherhood, their rights to comprehensive maternal healthcare. Mothers require a Charter of Maternal Rights* in order to preserve their claim on the world’s healthcare resources.
Motherhood is therefore the gift to humanity of such fundamental importance that it must be cherished and served in special ways appreciating its dignity as the key to healthy families and societies. (MaterCare International’s Charter of Maternal Rights, Section 1.A, Paragraph 1.2, 2012)
-Dr. Robert Walley, Executive Director of MaterCare International, Canada
MaterCare International is an organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, both born and unborn, through new initiatives of service, training, research and education.
*Charter of Maternal Rights: http://createsend.com/t/j-6F4E26338C1C8032